Presents at Home

A couple of nights before our trip, we opened presents as a family. One of my favorite (albeit incredibly silly) things to do each year is to make up some code for the Christmas tags and not tell anyone what it is. I tell them who the first couple of presents go to and they have to try to figure it out. Micah spent much of the day trying to figure out who got which present. Mike finally figured it out halfway through our present-opening. I just laugh and have a grand ol’ time watching them guess. =D

Micah had each of us sit in the circle of love in order to have us sing “We Wish You a Merry Christmas” (a Christmas tradition from my side of the family) to that person before he/she opened his/her first gift. I think the boys really enjoy giving gifts just as much (if not more) than they enjoy getting them.

We had a lot of fun that evening! And the boys even played us some carols before the festivities began. =D Mike especially liked his new handmade blanket.

Micah turns 10!

My mind can’t quite comprehend that our “baby” is already ten years old! This little spunky guy is such a joy. He definitely has his own mind and can’t be easily swayed or persuaded. He is also incredibly thoughtful and has the most generous heart. We enjoyed spoiling him with many of his favorite things over his birthday weekend.

Here’s our traditional final picture with mama before he turned 10:

And here are some shots from birthday weekend. He loved getting cards, calls, videos, poems, and gifts from his family and friends.

I think he would tell you that the highlight of his day was having some of his friends (siblings of students in ChA) over to play in the backyard while I hosted an outdoor Challenge A study hall. We all had cake and sang to him. He was pretty jazzed about the whole thing.

Playing Catch Up

The Advent season is upon us and I have yet to post anything from most of November. So, this will be a bit of a hodgepodge post, but it will serve to catch us up to Advent and Christmas pictures.

My dad snapped a couple of pictures of the boys and me before they left back in early November (Mike was on a work trip).

We’ve been using our new deck table and chairs as much as the weather has allowed. And our neighborhood lights have been put up, so I took Micah on a night walk to go see the big tree. We’ve also enjoyed a few Packer picnics. Note the new handmade Packer napkins and the Christmas decorations (that one is from after Thanksgiving).

Micah-man got vaccinated and was given a cute polar bear we fondly named Vax.

Thanksgiving was a blast! We were fortunate to be able to travel to see Mike’s side of the family in Arizona. It was short, but oh-so-sweet. It was lovely to get to stay at Mike’s brother’s home. We enjoyed a great Thanksgiving meal out by the pool, but even better company! We also managed to sneak in an afternoon visit at a park with Mike’s sis (and her party of five), his mom and his grandma. How nice to have the chance to see all of his family in one visit!

We’ve enjoyed doing CC outdoors each week of the semester except the last two. The weather prohibited outdoor learning only once this semester, but my class opted to meet indoors for our final meeting so that we could use the table to finish Blue Book assessments. What an awesome experience that was! I am SO impressed with their knowledge. You can see pictures of them drawing the Western Hemisphere and Europe, some from memory, others using resources. That day the younger class joined us for an outdoor Christmas party as they had finished week 12 the week before. Can you tell how much Ethan loves it when I snap pics of him? =D We are now officially on break until January 3! Phew!

Krav Maga continues to be a favorite weekly activity. Both boys graduated to orange belt this month. See Ethan breaking his board here and Micah breaking his here.

Spending time playing outside with our friends is one of our favorite pastimes:

And we had our first snow in Denver!

Before hitting the road

…we had a final piano lesson for the boys (during which I went for a nice long walk), a dentist appointment for Ethan (and he sat in the front seat because he’s old and heavy enough for that), a final walk to the pond (where I saw a coyote), and our last krav maga class (before taking two weeks off for our trip).

…we had a birthday to celebrate! This guy brings so much joy to our lives. Every one of us likes to sit and chat with him and give him lots of hugs. We each drew him cards to celebrate him. I’ll bet you can guess who drew which card.

The following day we hit the road for our two weeks in Wisconsin. We stopped in Des Moines on the way and had incredible pizza (thanks, Mel and Joel, for the recommendation years ago that still remains a delightful treat!) and took a nice long walk. Micah requested that we take those four pictures of the two of us. Ethan did not. =P

Next up…Wisconsin!

Brainard Lake

Our crew went camping for two nights at Brainard Lake this week. We reserved our spot back in January, you know, because people really love camping in Colorado and you can’t decide on a whim to go camping around here. Nothing like committing six months in advance for a couple nights away in the mountains! At the time I couldn’t even remember who told us to try camping there (now we figured it out), I just had put a reminder in my phone to reserve a campsite at Brainard Lake sometime over the summer. We are SO glad I did and will definitely be coming back! (The reminder in the phone is set on-going for every January now!)

This lovely spot is about an hour and a half away from our home and is gorgeous! We could hear the river from our campsite – a total win! – and loved walking around with it by our side.

Above you see pictures from our time at the campsite. The boys loved chopping firewood for us. We had hotdogs one night and chili the other. Oatmeal balls were our breakfasts.

Micah actually woke up the first morning feeling sick and ended up throwing up (maybe altitude?? maybe two s’mores before bed??), but he managed to still hike at least 6 miles that day and wasn’t slowed down! No symptoms of anything since.

We enjoyed paddle boarding and hiking. We saw four moose (five, if you ask some people…but those people are counting the same moose twice because it was in a different location the second time)! Two of the moose we watched swim across Long Lake – such a beautiful, surreal experience!

Brainard Lake, we’ll see you next July!!

Turks and Caicos

The long-awaited birthday trip to celebrate Grandma Cleve finally took place at the end of June. It was cancelled and rebooked at least twice, so you can imagine the thrill of *finally* getting to take this trip together! Grandma Cleve flew to Atlanta and traveled with Ashley’s family and then we all met in Turks and Caicos for a week of relaxation and gorgeous sites!

Pictures won’t do this island justice. So many of these shots look like we photoshopped ourselves into them. Unreal. I’ll start with some pictures of time at our home-away-from-home on the beach.

We enjoyed playing Bocce at the house…

Working hard to open up some coconuts…

And going snorkeling at the beach: